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Trump just signed a prime directive on the Space Force. Now it’s up to Congress to make it so
President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.
On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.
If Congress approves the creating of the new military branch, Space Force would be led by a military chief of staff, who would also be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a civilian Undersecretary of the Air Force for Space, the senior administration official said.
Eventually, Space Force would come under the purview of an independent military department for space.Space Force would be made up of the service members and Defense Department civilians from all of the military branches who are already supporting space operations, the official said. It would also create career tracks for uniformed and civilian space personnel.
The Defense Department has no plans to ask Congress to include NASA or any other non-military space organizations into Space Force, the official said.
One unresolved question is how much Space Force will cost. The Defense Department plans to ask for less than $100 million for the military branch as part of the fiscal 2020 budget, senior administration officials said on Tuesday. The total cost could be less than $5 billion, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters in November.
"Within the coming weeks we will submit our legislative proposal to Congress to authorize the establishment of the Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces," Pentagon spokesman Charles Summers said on Tuesday.
Separately, the U.S. military has already taken steps to create a new combatant command dedicated exclusively to space. Currently, space operations are overseen by U.S. Strategic Command, which is also responsible for the U.S. military's nuclear mission.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in January that he has someone in mind to lead Space Command but he did not say who that person was.
Establishing Space Command is, "The most important step we take going forward – and the one we need to do the quickest," Air Force Gen. David Goldfein said on Tuesday before Trump signed the directive.
"We as service chiefs know how to organize, train, equip, and present ready forces to a combatant commander," Goldfein said at the liberal Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, D.C. "I'll use SOCOM [Special Operations Command] as an example: I know how to take airmen, give them the training they need, present them to the SOCOM commander, and have Gen. [Raymond] Thomas give them a higher level of training, give them some specific equipment, and he fights them in a global campaign."
"I expect the exact same model for the U.S. Space Command commander," he continued. "The difference is that in special operations command, all the services have rather robust elements that they offer to the combatant commander. When it comes to Space Command as the supported commander, upwards of 80 to 90 % of the force that we'll present will be airmen."
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The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would allow service members to seek compensation when military doctors make mistakes that harm them, but they would still be unable to file medical malpractice lawsuits against the federal government.
On Monday night, Congress announced that it had finalized the NDAA, which must be passed by the House and Senate before going to President Donald Trump. If the president signs the NDAA into law, it would mark the first time in nearly seven decades that U.S. military personnel have had legal recourse to seek payment from the military in cases of medical malpractice.
The new acting secretary of the Navy said recently that he is open to designing a fleet that is larger than the current 355-ship plan, one that relies significantly on unmanned systems rather than solely on traditional gray hulls.
President Donald Trump, speaking during a closed-door speech to Republican Party of Florida donors at the state party's annual Statesman's Dinner, was in "rare form" Saturday night.
The dinner, which raised $3.5 million for the state party, was met with unusual secrecy. The 1,000 attendees were required to check their cell phones into individual locked cases before they entered the unmarked ballroom at the south end of the resort. Reporters were not allowed to attend.
But the secrecy was key to Trump's performance, which attendees called "hilarious."
Riding the high of the successful event turnout — and without the pressure of press or cell phones — Trump transformed into a "total comedian," according to six people who attended the event and spoke afterward to the Miami Herald.
He also pulled an unusual move, bringing on stage Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who Trump pardoned last month for cases involving war crimes. Lorance was serving a 19-year sentence for ordering his soldiers shoot at unarmed men in Afghanistan, and Golsteyn was to stand trial for the 2010 extrajudicial killing of a suspected bomb maker.
Retired Col. Charles McGee stepped out of the small commercial jet and flashed a smile.
Then a thumbs-up.
McGee had returned on a round-trip flight Friday morning from Dover Air Force Base, where he served as co-pilot on one of two flights done especially for his birthday.
By the way he disembarked from the plane, it was hard to tell that McGee, a Tuskegee Airman, was turning 100.
A major serving at U.S. Army Cyber Command has been charged with distributing child pornography, according to the Justice Department.
Maj. Jason Michael Musgrove, who is based at Fort Gordon, Georgia, has been remanded to the U.S. Marshals service, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia says.